12/16/2019, 16.28
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Beijing exports anti-Uyghur surveillance technologies to 63 countries

According to a US think-tank, China has now become a global driver of "authoritarian tech". Chinese products often come with soft loans. Even companies based in liberal democracies play an important role in the proliferation of freedom-killing technologies.


Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese companies have sold artificial intelligence (AI) surveillance technology to 63 countries, including Iran, Myanmar, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and other nations accused of human rights violations, this according to the latest report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think-tank with centres in Washington, Moscow, Beirut, Beijing, Brussels and New Delhi.

The report notes that Beijing has now become a global driver of "authoritarian tech", thanks to tools like the facial recognition systems China’s Communist party uses to oppress Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the western province of Xinjiang.

The US think-tank is concerned that authoritarian regimes may use technology to increase their power and that the data collected may be sent back to China.

“Technology linked to Chinese companies – particularly Huawei, Hikvision, Dahua and ZTE – supply AI surveillance technology in 63 countries, 36 of which have signed onto China's Belt and Road Initiative," the think-tank says.

Huawei Technologies Co, a leader in the next-generation 5G wireless networks, alone exports its products to at least 50 countries.

“Chinese product pitches are often accompanied by soft loans to encourage governments to purchase their equipment,” the report says. “This raises troubling questions about the extent to which the Chinese government is subsidizing the purchase of advanced repressive technology."

The Carnegie report also points out that Chinese companies are not alone in this business. Japan's NEC Corp supplies AI surveillance technology to 14 countries and IBM Corp of the United States does the same in 11 countries.

In fact, “Other companies based in liberal democracies – France, Germany, Israel, Japan – are also playing important roles in proliferating this technology”. What is more, these countries "are not taking adequate steps to monitor and control the spread of sophisticated technologies linked to a range of violations".

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